Perhaps the worst aspect of recent political scandals is the response from much of the now beleaguered electorate that whatever the indiscretion it’s pretty much become par for the course.
Recent party membership irregularities in a local riding are certainly no exception.
The revelations that federal Liberal and Conservative membership lists are dotted with dozens of the same names, that some of the folks on the lists never asked to be, that coincidently virtually all of the duplicate names are of one segment of our multicultural society have all been met with little outrage, disdain or contempt.
Folks are, it seems, just plain worn down. Their will to fight back all but beaten by the steady deluge of faith-in -the-system crushing scandals. Their hope that finally this politician or that one will turn out to be different has become a hazy memory.
Aside from talk radio hosts, party officials and candidates there seems to be few strong opinions about the membership lists’ irregularities.
On Friday one local MP had a chance to perhaps change some of the current perceptions of politicians.
Dick Harris assembled a hopeful group of local media types to his office. In what quickly became a confrontational meeting as the reporters pressed Mr. Harris for substantive answers on problems with his party’s membership list, Mr. Harris went on the offensive. He laid the blame for the media attention to the list fiasco squarely at the feet of his competitor Elmer Thiessen for the parties nomination, while saying he would be taking the high road on the issue. This despite the fact that Mr. Thiessen did not seek out the media with the story.
It seems that the high road Mr. Harris alluded to could have been taken by simply admitting to problems with his party’s membership list, and while making it clear that they occurred through no wrongdoing of his own, as the sitting MP he would ensure that the buck stops here. He could have said unequivocally that he would find how the irregularities occurred and vowed to make the necessary changes.
Such a move would have shaken the most jaded media in the room, ended up in the lead of news stories and perhaps, however briefly, stemmed the tide of cynicism for politicians and politics.
But in the end it was an opportunity lost.